National Geographic : 1965 Feb
hunter camouflages himself with boughs and leaves to break up the outline of his body. Then, from downwind, he commences his cautious approach. He advances from an oblique angle; a direct stalk would send the duiker darting into the underbrush. Slowly ... slowly, inch by inch, the man draws near. Joshua freezes as the animal abruptly raises its head and stares at him. What do those eyes register? A bush? A small tree? Reas sured, the duiker lowers its head once more. Joshua waits. Then he moves forward a slow step . .. another. His hands are tight against his sides; always he conceals them, for to wild creatures hands spell man. No bush, no tree possesses those twin instruments of death, and the sight of them provokes terror or rage among Africa's wildlife. Silently, gradually, the tree that is Joshua nears the duiker. Thirty feet... twenty-five ... twenty. Then, a lightning movement. Too late the duiker sees the telltale hands upraised. A spear flashes. And the hunter will eat meat this night. Kikuyu Lessons Help a Scientist Louis remembers, too, the long evenings in front of the Kikuyu huts. As fires burned low, the old men would spin the old tales to Louis and the boys of his age group. Amusing tales, yes, but not idle. For each taught its lesson, each had its moral. What, I asked, had Louis's Kikuyu boyhood contributed to his success as a fossil hunter? "Two things," he responded promptly. "Patience-especially patience-and obser vation. In Africa, survival depends upon your reaction to irregularities in your surroundings. A torn leaf, a paw print, a bush that rustles when there is no breeze, a sudden quiet these are the signals that spell the difference between life and death. "The same instant recognition of something different-a glint of white in the face of a cliff, an odd-shaped pebble, a tiny fragment of bone-leads to the discovery of fossils. "And patience. I can still hear the Kikuyu elders telling the boys of my age over and over: 'Be patient, be careful, don't hurry. Try again and again and again.' "I remember when Mary discovered the 25,000,000-year-old skull of Proconsulon the island of Rusinga in Lake Victoria in 1948. We had combed that particular site at least seven times-both of us-without results. But we kept going back, and on the eighth try, Mary found it. "Some scientists would make two or three 206 On the track of earliest man, Leakey National Geographic expeditions have ranged both Kenya and Tanganyika. Fossils of prehistoric men and animals have turned up on rocky hills and in barren gorges. 01 duvai Gorge (lower center) yielded Homo habilis and the skull of Zinjanthropus. A Zinj jaw was found at Peninj, near Lake Natron. Kenyapithecus, regarded by Dr. Leakey as a 14,000,000-year-old stage in man's ancestry, came to light at Fort Ternan (upper center). The Leakeys found apelike Proconsul on Lake Victoria islands, and Stone Age man at nearby Kanam. Pathfinder on wheels, this truck carried Dr. Leakey's first expedition to Olduvai in 1931. Roadless plains and frequent stops to cool the engine slowed the pace to five miles an hour. Driver Donald MacInnes rests be hind the wheel at a small trading post in Kenya; Dr. Leakey stands on the far running board. In the dry season, Olduvai's explorers had to go far afield for water; even today, the nearest reliable source lies about 30 miles away from the excavations.